Netflix may call itself a next-generation TV network, but it’s fundamentally changing how we watch television, and in turn define ourselves as a nation, argues Tim Wu in a piece for the New Republic. Wu retells some of Netflix’s earlier original content efforts, and argues that the company’s recent shows aren’t about mass culture but about intense niche fandom. Definitely worth a read.
Some Chromecast users are starting to report that they have received the latest firmware update for Google’s TV dongle, and the most prominent change seems to be an even more subdued home screen. Gone is the big “ready to cast” tag line, as well as the Google-colored status bar. Instead, Google is introducing photo credits, an indication that the company may be opening up Chromecast backgrounds to a wider array of sources, possibly at some point including a user’s personal photos. You can check out some photos of the new Chromecast home screen here and here, and join folks speculating about other features of this update on Reddit.
Bonjour and guten Tag: Netflix executives have visited Germany and France as they are looking for additional markets to launch their service. Read more »
This morning, an email from a PR agency titled “Netflix likely to end binge watching in 2014″ hit my inbox, responding to this week’s announcement that the streaming service’s first animated original Turbo Fast will be released in installations, as opposed to making the entire season available on day one. Then, a little later, another email, this time from Netflix: “House of Cards returns for second season Friday February 14.” In one big swoop, ready to binge. No change of heart, after all. So why did Netflix divvy up Turbo Fast? Business Week has the answer, House of Cards star Robin Wright has no comment.
Media center app Plex could be coming to Chromecast soon: A recent version of Plex’s server software already includes a Chromecast configuration file. Read more »
Beats Music will launch its music subscription service in January, likely at CES, and the company is partnering with AT&T to get on people’s mobile phones. Read more »
As music subscription services are looking to bring their apps to the big screen, they might want to consider to take a closer look at Instagram and Co. Read more »
After an increasing backlash from some high-profile musicians, Spotify is going on the offensive by sharing some information on how it generates money for the music industry. Aside from average pay-outs, which range from $0.006 to $0.0084 per play, the service is also offering musicians detailed statistics, and even an additional revenue stream: Spotify has teamed up with Topspin to allow bands to sell merchandise through its service.
Rdio named Anthony Bay as its new CEO Tuesday. Bay joins the digital music subscription service from Amazon, where he was working as Global head of Digital Video. That’s an interesting background, considering that Rdio also is operating a digital video service called Vdio – but for now, Bay seems to be concentrated on Rdio’s music business, as the company’s press release doesn’t mention Vdio with a single word. Of course, it’s not like Rdio won’t keep Bay busy: The company has been trying to catch up with Spotify by partnering with radio network Cumulus to launch free, ad-supported services. But making the numbers work hasn’t been easy for Rdio, which recently laid off a reported 35 employees.
Online video service Blip is trying to scale down from 900,000 publishers to just a few thousand serialized shows. That process is anything but painless. Read more »
It’s true: The Chernin Group has acquired a majority stake in Crunchyroll, an online video service specialized in Anime. Read more »
Time Warner Cable knows that some of its customers don’t care about 300 channels. The company is now offering a bundle of local channels and HBO — but is it really a good deal? Read more »
Microsoft and Sony are both vying get your hard-earned money this holiday season. But which game console should you buy: the Xbox One of the PS4? Read more »
Black Friday means that you can save money on devices like Google’s Chromecast, the new Roku 2 or even an Apple TV. Here are the best deals for cord cutters. Read more »
YouTube’s most recent Android app contains a number of references to premium music features, suggesting that the site’s music subscription service could launch soon. Read more »
Japanese TV fans got one more option to get their movie fix this week: Amazon launched its Instant Video service in Japan Tuesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The offering has 26,000 movies and TV show episodes available for rent and purchase, but Amazon isn’t currently offering a Prime Instant-like subscription to Japanese customers. The launch coincided with the introduction of the Kindle Fire HDX in Japan.
Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter may get all the attention these days, but Google TV is still around as well — and it just got a small boost from French telco SFR, which is now offering an Android-based TV set-top box to its DSL subscribers. The device offers users access to Google Play, YouTube and Chrome, and combines those apps with live broadcast TV. This is the second such operator partnership for Google, which has been selling Android-powered set-top boxes to LG U+ customers in South Korea for some time. And it’s one more example of Google slowly moving away from the Google TV moniker, something we first reported in October.
BitTorrent Inc. has teamed up with VICE Media, and the first result of this collaboration is a behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of Lady Gaga’s latest music video. Read more »
What if you could ditch cable, but keep the ability to record shows on a DVR? Tablo wants to make that a reality with a new DVR for cord cutters. Read more »
Google just added another major retailer to distribute its Chromecast streaming stick: Walmart started selling Chromecast in its stores as well as online Monday. The addition of Walmart comes just days after news broke that Chromecast now also sells at Staples as well as via Verizon’s and Motorola’s websites, and in time to make the device a big seller this holiday season.
Katie Couric is leaving ABC News for Yahoo, where she will become David Pogue’s new boss, and do some features for Yahoo’s homepage. Read more »
Soundrop may have started as just another Spotify app, but the collaborative listening platform has outgrown its former host, and is now also on Deezer. Read more »
Chill.com is closing down its premium content distribution platform by December 15. Maybe selling content like Louis CK isn’t that easy, after all? Read more »
Hot on the heels of the HBO Go app launch, as well as signs that more apps may be supported soon, comes the news that Chromecast is now more widely available for sale. Google’s TV streaming stick started selling at Staples stores as well as through the retailer’s website this week. Motorola is also selling the device through an online store you probably didn’t know existed, and Verizon has begun to sell it online as well as in its flagship store in the Mall of Americas in Minneapolis as well. There’s no word on when Chromecast will find its way into regular Verizon stores, or other retailers, just yet.
Netflix recently launched a new, unified user interface across most connected devices, but the company made an exception for Microsoft’s Xbox One. The Netflix app on the Xbox One, which was internally code-named “Project Halo” was custom-designed for the game console, and Netflix’s Lead UX Designer Michelle Koh and visual designer Trevor Cleveland show off their work on Behance.
Chromecast currently only supports a limited number of apps, but many more could be available soon, thanks to Google getting ready to release the Google Cast SDK. Read more »
Al Jazeera’s AJ+ is an ambitious attempt to produce news for a generation that doesn’t watch news networks on TV anymore. Here’s a first behind-the-scenes look. Read more »
Hola, Elmo: Hulu added a number of new shows to its Hulu Plus kids section Thursday, including episodes of the Sesame Street in English and Spanish, as well as shows like Strawberry Shortcake, Bob the Builder, Bratz and Angelina Ballerina. All of the content is on a non-exclusive basis, meaning that you’ll likely recognize much of it from Netflix — but it’s nonetheless interesting that Hulu is continuing to invest in kids content, which seems to be working well for all online services. And adding Spanish-language titles to the mix is an interesting twist. Hulu launched its Latino offering in late 2011, and has since struck a number of deals to get content for its Spanish-speaking audience.
Sports fans just got another way to keep up with their favorite teams: ESPN has completely revamped its ScoreCenter app, and is now calling it SportsCenter. Read more »
Intel is getting ready to sell its yet-to-be-launched OnCue TV service, and Verizon is emerging as the most likely buyer. Read more »
Good news for everyone lining up to get an Xbox One: Microsoft’s new game console will have a YouTube app available at launch, after all. YouTube announced the app on its blog Wednesday, explaining that it will make use of both voice and gesture control, and showing that it’s otherwise pretty much the same as any other recent connected TV app implementations of YouTube. Earlier this week, it briefly looked like neither the Xbox One nor Sony’s PS4 would have a YouTube app at launch, but it appears that Microsoft got the job done just in time. In other words: Sony, the ball is in your court.
HBO Nordic isn’t getting much love in Sweden, where a recent survey found Netflix more than ten times as popular. Read more »
The Xbox One promises to combine state-of-the-art video gaming with live TV and streaming apps. Check out or hands-on video for a closer look at the device’s entertainment offerings. Read more »
Rdio may have tripled the number of new sign-ups this year, but the company still laid off a reported 35 people Tuesday to cut costs. Read more »
Apple TV users just got another option to watch Antiques Roadshow: PBS launched an app on Apple’s streaming box Tuesday, promising access to “thousands of hours of your favorite PBS programming.” But don’t expect whole seasons of Downton Abbey: Amazon got an exclusive for that show, which means that episodes only show up “for a limited window following the on-air broadcast,” according to a statement given to AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka. Also new on Apple TV: An app for Yahoo Screen, Yahoo’s very own video portal.
YouTube became inaccessible on the web as well as on mobile and connected devices since a little after 2pm PT Monday, but came back around 30 minutes later. Read more »
Sling rolled out a number of new features to its retail customers Monday — but how will the company’s technology fare once it’s adopted by cable operators with their convoluted TV Everywhere rules? Read more »
Video chatting could soon get a whole lot easier — if only the major browser makers could agree on a common standard. So what’s WebRTC, and why are folks still fighting about it? Read more »
Much like detective Linden, Netflix just can’t let go: The streaming service just revealed that it has renewed crime drama The Killing for a final, six-episode fourth season. This is actually the second time for Netflix to save The Killing: AMC canceled the show after season two in 2012, but Netflix stepped in and partnered with the network for a third season that didn’t get any better ratings, prompting AMC once again to axe the show this year. However, all three seasons remain available on Netflix, where they have apparently performing well enough to warrant the investment. There’s no word yet on when the fourth season will come to Netflix, but it will once again be released in bulk, and available to all Netflix subscribers worldwide.
Google is looking to hire people to bring Chromecast abroad, and a leak hints at an impending launch of HBO Go support. Read more »